Next up in our celebrations for World Vegan Month, we take an exclusive look-around Neil Rankin's brand new burger bar on Brick Lane.
Simplicity Burger is championing a waste-not, want-not ethos and a simple aim: to serve no-bullshit burger patties made purely from British plants that may otherwise have gone in the bin. They ferment most veggies in house and aim for zero waste: think a plant-based vegan Big Mac, made purely from vegetables and wasting not a single bit.
Ready for a sneak peak behind the plant-based scenes? Keep watching to hear a little from Neil Rankin, chef and founder of Simplicity Burger, to talk more about his zero-waste ethos and how burgers can change the world.
Behind the scenes at Simplicity Burger
Talk us through your journey from Temper to now.
My journey from smokehouse onto Temper has always been about meat sustainability. It's something I've become quite passionate about, and I've always been interested in the vegan scene. When I opened Temper, we got protested about and I had quite a lot of interaction with the vegan community, and have become quite good friends with a lot of the vegan community as a result. After that, I started delving into it.
I saw that there was a lack of artisan vegan products on the market at the moment. A lot of the companies in London were using the Beyond Meat burger and other alternative meats like that. They're great, and there's nothing wrong with them, but obviously it's a processed product brought in from another country and I just didn't understand where that was coming from. I also felt there was a lack of burgers on the market that appealed to meat eaters, so it was kind of a challenge and I wanted to see whether I could actually do it. I didn't know when I first started whether I'd be able to pull it off or not. But early on, I realised that there were a number of ways that I could definitely get the flavour that people wanted. It was just all about getting the texture and the look and the feel.
How long did it take you to develop the recipe?
It took me about eight months, maybe more than that. But I was working on it flat-out.
If you had to describe Simplicity Burger in three words, how would you describe it?
Delicious, umami and sustainable.
Talk to us a little bit about the sustainable side of the burger and the business. You're zero waste and are trying to use wonky vegetables, is that right?
We're not completely zero-waste yet, just to make that completely clear, but we are trying to get there. The process of the burger is zero waste. We're buying in whole vegetables that are British made and British grown. We ferment them and then the liquid used from the fermentation gets used in other aspects, so we make a gravy from that fermentation liquid, and use some of the fermentation liquid for the next batch. All of the vegetables are used 100% – we just grind everything up. I've spent my whole life chopping bits off and disregarding bits, but unlike some people who would chop stuff away, we don't chop anything away. With the tomatoes, we ferment them and then use the juice to make the cheese, the skins to make the ketchup and then anything that's left over we dehydrate and use to make the salads.
It's just about what we can do with every last bit. That's what we're trying to do. The reason we've gone for burgers and not a more complicated menu is because the whole system works for itself. We're using potatoes and the potato flour that we make from the potatoes is used to bind the burgers. The starch from that is used to make the vegan cheese, as well. That's the sort of system that we're working within.